The World Cup of Cricket is currently underway. Those of you who care, already know this and I am informing the rest now. The concept is beguilingly similar to other 'World Cup's - a bunch of teams from across the world gather every 4 years and find out how bad they suck compared to Australia (at least, that has been the script for the last decade though things are far more fluid this time around). And while they let Bermuda play, Americans are shut out of this international tournament. Also Iranians, Iraqis and North Koreans. Make of that what you will. Incidentally, no one can find the Bermuda team.
My favorite WC memory - and yes, the fans will cringe - was the semi-final defeat of Pakistan by Australia in 1987 at Ghaddafi Stadium, Lahore. Pakistan had a glorious team. Experienced, hungry and proud co-hosts of the Cup. Imran Khan, the captain, the leader of men, the demi-god, had promised greatness from his team. But, then the brash youth of Steve Waugh brought us all crashing to the ground. Boy, did that hurt. But it taught me the valuable, life-long, lesson to expect my home team to turn to shite at the perfect moment. Bitter, no? True, though.
In this WC, I didn't really expect Pakistan to do much. The top-bowlers were doped-up at home. The batting lineup is old, cranky, fat and bearded [say what you will but unless the sport in question is World's Fastest Growing Hair Follicles - shave]. And yet, one still did not expect the #4 ODI side in the world to lose to Ireland. IRELAND! Who don't even have a cricket team. These are injured rugby players on their physiotherapy routine, people! And those Irish beat, nay thrashed, nay smacked the jama'at out, nay drove the snakes out of our glorious team. Today, on St. Patrick's Day, Pakistan was sent packing by Ireland. Kinya belev't?
Except I didn't watch that match. I watched, instead, Bangladesh's amazing chase of India's measely 191. The three bats who carried Bangladesh, with scores of 51, 56* and 53, were aged 17, 18 and 19 years old respectively. The inning of the youngest, Tamim Iqbal, was especially awe-inspiring. That slightly, sprightly, left-hander charged every single Indian bowler with defiance and confidence that made me remember the young Saeed Anwar or Sachin Tendulkar. The composure of all the young batsmen was just solid and their grins infectious. India, on the other hand, played like over-paid, over-endorsed, over-burdened paper tigers with horrid fielding, lackluster bowling and complete lack of imagination in the captainship. You are bowling to kids, yo! Come on! I am certain there is much glee in Dhaka and much sorrow in Calcutta tonight. Oh, how the times have changed. I will remark, though, that at least Pakistan got some money to famously lose to Bangladesh in 1999. Just saying.
Hopefully, Pakistan will go home and every one on the team will be fired. And we will find some 17 year olds to get out there. Luckily for the Pakistani cricket team, our nation is burning cars over the Supreme Court firing, our press is under direct assault and The General is about to go Franco on us. The nation may be too distracted to notice that the tablighis came home early and empty handed.
In other WC news, H. Gibbs did what no batsmen had done in the history of international cricket - he smacked 6 sixes in an over against Netherlands (that's akin to hitting a grand slam at your every at-bat - plus 2). The best I ever did was 4. So, he wins that head-to-head, I guess.
Looking ahead, I think Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia might be the Semifinal 4. With maybe West Indies in play for the NZ spot. Good chance that Sri Lanka takes it all.
update: Shocking news that Bob Woolmer, the Pakistani coach died suddenly. Truly shocking.
I was preparing a polite *ahem* email to you about this when I read the news. Thank god no fortune was spent on telecasts, man! Am expecting Part II of this post after India bows out shortly. Bermuda might well spring a surprise on us, after all strange things have been known to happen there. Incidentally, I have good memories of the Reliance Cup semis and the final too.
pathetic performance - believe me those tape ball tournaments in sanathnagar grounds are far more professional than this !! Good Luck to Bangla Bhai's
What is this animosity against the Pakistani cricketers beard? Let them follow their religion, for Allah's sake! Those cricketers in the Pak team who have it, believe they are following the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam (there is a consensus among the Sunnis that growing a beard is mandatory according to Islam).
Bob Woolmer dies at age 58. Freddie drinks-n-sinks. cricket-no-more !!
Al-Maturidi: Their religion [and there is consensus in the sunnah] expressly forbids playing with balls and other games of chance [perhaps Inzi doesn't know of betting on his game?] - and other distractions created by Shaitan. So, what are these momins doing on the cricket field?
Tamim's opening 51 was absolutely amazing, and you described it perfectly, Sepoy; it even had my cricket-allergic brother-in-law transfixed. And then you tell me that he's freaking SEVENTEEN! what's that boy been eating?! (insert punchline). I just saw the news about Bob Woolmer as I read over some serious shoulders on the Tube this morning. Nothing clever to say about that: it's jsut sad as hell, going out like that.
Sepoy: I'm not aware of any scholar having prohibited Muslims from playing with a ball. I have myself witnessed bearded Tablighis in shalwar kamiz playing cricket, and how is cricket a game of chance? You can't blame the cricketers if someone else is betting on their game. You can place a bet on anything these days..
Al-Maturidi: There used to fatwas - about 10 a year banning Football, Cricket, Hockey, whatever in Pakistan and in Gulf states. That is from my personal experience. Most famously, at the eve of the 87 World Cup by the Mufti of the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. Caused some consternation. See a moderate spin of what I remember. I will leave the theological hair splitting [!] of engaging knowingly in an activity that feeds into a pointedly haram action, aside.
say what you will but unless the sport in question is World's Fastest Growing Hair Follicles - shaveBut Our Blessed Monty won Beard of the Year! I think you're just jealous.
[...] when one billion people were shocked. India Uncut talks of Bangladesh and Ireland shaking it up. Chapati Mystery provides an interesting account of the two matches. In this WC, I didn't really expect Pakistan [...]
Actually the mood in Calcutta was fairly upbeat. Ananda Bazaar Patrika headlines read, "Eleven Bengalis upstage India". :-)